Awardee Interviews | Biography: Yves Chabal

Yves Chabal

Yves ChabalDr. Yves Chabal, University of Texas, Dallas, “for his exceptional studies of vibrations at surfaces, especially the development and application of surface infrared spectroscopy to understand the physics and chemistry of hydrogenterminated silicon and atomic layer deposition”

Yves Chabal currently holds a Texas Instrument Distinguished University Chair in Nanoelectronics and is department Head of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Texas at Dallas. He obtained a BA in Physics from Princeton University in 1974, and a Ph.D. in Physics from Cornell University in 1980 under the guidance of Prof. Al Sievers. He then joined Bell Laboratories as a posdoc under the mentorship of Jack Rowe. He worked at Murray Hill, New Jersey, from 1980 until 2002 for AT&T, Lucent Technologies (1996) and Agere Systems (2001) in the Surface Physics, Optical Physics and Materials Science departments where he developed sensitive spectroscopic methods to characterize surfaces and interfaces. In 2003, he joined Rutgers University as Professor in Chemistry and Biomedical Engineering, where he expanded his research into new methods of film growth, bio-sensoring, and energy applications. He directed the Laboratory for Surface Modification, an interdisciplinary Center to promote large initiatives. He joined UT Dallas in January 2008 to lead the Materials Science and Engineering department in the Erik Jonsson Engineering School.

Yves’s scientific preparation was marked by strong training in spectroscopy from Steve Schnatterly at Princeton, Al Sievers at Cornell, and Jack Rowe at Bell Labs. In addition to the unique and stimulating environment of Bell Labs, his career has benefited enormously from strong and sustained mentorship by Jack Rowe, support and collaborations from colleagues like Don Hamann, John Tully, Mark Cardillo and Gregg Higashi and many others at Bell Labs, including outstanding postdocs and students who joined his group. Among them, Janice Reutt-Robey, Melissa Hines, Kate Queeney and Sandrine Rivillon have played a key role in shifting his focus from UHV studies of surface structure and dynamics to surface kinetics and chemistry, including wet-chemical modification of semiconductor surfaces. In fact, the discovery with Gregg Higashi of a wet-chemical process to make atomically flat H-terminated Si(111) surfaces with higher structural quality than any Si(111) surfaces prepared in vacuum engaged him into a fascinating journey to understand the etching process and the means of chemically functionalizing such stable surfaces. Thus, while the first part of his career was marked by structural and dynamical studies of hydrogen and small molecules at surfaces, the second has focused on hydrogen passivation or oxidation of semiconductor surfaces, and their subsequent functionalization using both gas and liquid phase processes. In all these areas, his work has emphasized elementary processes, often studied on remarkably homogeneous model surfaces. The fundamental thus derived has contributed to front end processing in microelectronics process, including atomic layer deposition, and now stands as the basis for interesting energy applications, such as photovoltaic and fuel cells, and sensing applications, such as electronic-based biosensors. The energy crisis has motivated him to expand his research into new directions of interest to the Department of Energy, such as hydrogen storage and carbon capture in complex materials. UT Dallas has provided Yves with exceptional facilities for research, and he continues to enjoy and benefit from wonderful students, postdocs and colleagues with highly multidisciplinary and multicultural backgrounds.